Recently, a customer asked us which option was better for project tracking – task-based completion or time-based completion. Tracking the percentage of tasks completed and tracking the percentage of hours logged.are the most common ways of measuring project progress. While both methods have their merits, each also comes with its own set of complexities and potential pitfalls. So let’s look at the challenges involved in tracking time reliably, and the consequences of failing to track progress accurately in light of a hypothetical project.

Picture this  

Your company’s CEO, inspired by a recent bout of nostalgia, has tasked you with overseeing the construction of a tree house in the company’s courtyard. Not just any tree house, mind you – a majestic, multi-level marvel that will serve as a symbol of innovation and creativity. As the designated project manager, you must now choose between task completion and time-based progress tracking to ensure the success of this lofty endeavor.

Task Completion-Based Progress Tracking: The Tree House Tango 

You opt for task completion-based progress tracking and promptly list every action needed to bring the CEO’s dream to life. The excitement is palpable as team members race to complete tasks like “purchase lumber,” “install windows,” and “add a rope ladder for quick escapes.” 

However, you soon realize that not all tasks are created equal. Sure, “paint tree house exterior” was completed in record time, but the “install zip line to the parking lot” task has been met with a collective groan from the team. Task completion tracking has given you an adrenaline rush, but it hasn’t prepared you for the uneven workload or the fact that the team spent an entire day debating the merits of a spiral staircase versus a traditional ladder.

Time-Based Progress Tracking: The Great Tree House Time-Logging Adventure

Determined to learn from your mistakes, you switch to time-based progress tracking. The team starts logging hours spent on tasks like “sawing wood planks” and “hammering nails with moderate enthusiasm.” You now have a better sense of the time and effort required for each task, and you feel confident in your ability to manage resources effectively.

However, the complexities of time tracking rear their ugly heads. One team member, who insists on using a sundial for “authenticity,” logs wildly inaccurate hours. Another seems to think that the time spent watching DIY tree house videos counts as “research.” Meanwhile, the intern who spent a week perfecting the tree house’s Wi-Fi connection has inadvertently skewered your project timeline.

Complexities and Consequences: A Branch Too Far

Despite your best efforts, tracking time reliably proves to be an elusive beast. As the project’s deadline looms, the team is divided between those who’ve mastered the art of hammock-based multitasking and those who’ve succumbed to the siren song of impromptu brainstorming sessions in the unfinished tree house.

Mismanaged resources and a false sense of progress ultimately lead to a delay in the project’s completion. The CEO, having envisioned cutting the ribbon on their childhood dream with gusto, now faces the sobering reality of a tree house that still lacks a rooftop garden and mini-fridge.

Striking the Perfect Balance

In the end, the tree house project serves as a lighthearted, yet cautionary tale of the challenges associated with task completion and time-based progress tracking. By adopting a combination of both methods, adjusting expectations, and maintaining a healthy sense of humor, you’ll be better prepared to manage even the most unconventional of projects.

As you watch your team put the finishing touches on the tree house’s rooftop conference room, you can’t help but smile. After all, project management is about embracing the unexpected, learning from experience, and, occasionally, building an awe-inspiring tree house that will leave your competitors green with envy.


Task-based progress tracking allows for an easy, high-level overview of project status and provides a clear indication of how much work remains. By focusing on task completion, project managers can readily identify bottlenecks and allocate resources more efficiently.

However, this approach does not account for the varying levels of effort required for different tasks. This can lead to an inaccurate representation of progress and a skewed perception of the remaining workload. Further, it does not reflect the actual time and resources consumed, which can impact resource planning and overall project management. 

Time-based progress tracking offers a more accurate representation of the work completed, taking into consideration the time and effort required for each task. By monitoring the hours spent on tasks, project managers can identify inefficiencies and adjust workloads to optimize productivity.

However, time-based progress tracking introduces complexities in tracking time reliably. Employees may inaccurately log their hours, either through unintentional errors or deliberate misreporting. Furthermore, time spent on a task does not always equate to the quality of work produced, which can lead to an overemphasis on hours logged rather than the overall outcome.

And whichever way you choose, the TimeTracker for Salesforce gives you great ways to track project completion in “real” time.

Image by EM80 from Pixabay